The 40 Craziest Freak Accidents in Sports
D’oh! We are used to hearing that patented phrase come from Homer Simpson, but it should also be reserved for some of the athletes on this list, most of whom have done some regrettable things.
From cutting yourself while sleepwalking to sneezing too hard, these people, who are supposed to be the best competitors in the world, get hurt just like you and me, the common folk.
When reading this list, you will laugh, you will fact-check and most probably, your jaw will drop—and I guarantee you will be entertained.
Here are 40 of the best freak sports accidents and injuries in history. Enjoy.
40. Carlos Boozer Trips over Gym Bag and Breaks Pinkie
Carlos Boozer has always been injury prone, but generally, the man keeps his injuries on the court. This time, he chose a more creative route: a gym bag.
Boozer tripped over a gym bag and broke parts of his hand, delaying his team debut and starting off on a bad foot. Luckily, the team rebounded, and he puts his gym bag in a safer place now.
39. Larry Walker Separates Shoulder Fishing
Fishing is supposed to be a leisurely activity that athletes do in the offseason to have peace, serenity—and injuries?
Larry Walker, the huge and powerful outfielder, somehow separated his shoulder fishing in the 1996 offseason. He then went on to miss spring training and part of the 1997 season.
I hope at the very least he was fighting a 200-pound marlin at the time.
38. Sean Payton Tears MCL on Sideline
We are used to seeing football players tear their MCLs and break their legs; it is part of the game. But rarely do you see the coaches standing on their safe, cushy sidelines get knocked down and out of the game.
Sean Payton tried to tough it out, like he preaches to the players he coaches, but not even he could withstand the pain long enough to stay in the game.
He now must coach with a knee brace and tough it out, because hey, injuries are part of the game.
37. John Smoltz Irons Himself
I always took Smoltz for a smart man, which is now confirmed by his commentary during baseball games. But even smart people do dumb things once in a while.
In 1990, Smoltz allegedly ironed a shirt that he was still wearing, burning himself in the process. He claims this never took place, though the entire sports and entertainment world ran with the story. Eventually, Smoltz stopped fighting it.
Only one person will ever really know if it happened or not. At the very least, it's a funny story.
36. Jeff Kent Hurts Wrist Washing Car...Or Does He?
Jeff Kent told the San Francisco Giants that he hurt his wrist washing his car. He alleged that he fell off the back, leading to his injury.
This was later found out to be untrue. Instead, he was popping wheelies on his motorcycle and fell off.
Either way you look at it, he was doing a very dumb thing that he should not have been doing.
Kent and the organization soon parted ways. Surprise, surprise.
35. David Cone Misses Start from Dog Bite
David Cone was one of the most stable pitchers in any rotation he joined. For the 1998 New York Yankees, the greatest team ever, he was a reliable starter...on most days.
He missed an early June start that season for a rather unconventional injury. Cone had to skip his start because his mother's Jack Russell terrier bit his index finger on his pitching hand.
"It is kind of a freak thing. It's kind of embarrassing," Cone said.
34. Joel Zumaya Plays Too Much Video Games
I love video games, and I am sure my readers do too. They are nice because we can be our favorite athletes or, in pitcher Joel Zumaya's case, rock stars without all the hard work.
They are supposed to be non-contact activities, so we don't get hurt. You would think this was what the Tigers' Zumaya was thinking when he harmlessly played Guitar Hero in the comforts of his own home.
The problem is that he kept playing, and playing, and playing...
This forced him to miss three games of the 2006 ALCS. Moral of the story: Grow up, Joel.
33. Chris Hanson Drops the Ax
Coach Jack Del Rio wanted to fire his team up by bringing in wood and an ax with the team mentality of "keep chopping wood." This point was well taken by the team and taken too far by its punter.
Chris Hanson could never be confused with an incredible athletic specimen, so nobody should have been surprised when the punter accidentally missed the wood and sliced his leg.
He would be placed on injured reserve, ending his 2003 campaign.
Lesson learned: Don't let the punter do anything besides kick the ball.
32. Erik Johnson Tears MCL Riding a Golf Cart
These hockey players need to stay on the ice and away from any other activity, because they just keep getting injured.
Star defenseman Erik Johnson tore his knee apart when he caught his foot between the accelerator and brake of his golf cart while getting out. To think that people say that hockey is too dangerous...they should see golf.
31. Adam Eaton Cuts Himself Opening a DVD
Anyone has ever tried to open up DVDs or any other electronic device knows that it can be tricky from time to time.
The process goes:
1. Try to open it like a normal civilized human being
2. Smile while you start to get more aggressive with it
3. Slam it on the table and begin to compromise the contents at any cost
4. Grab the knife and start hacking
This is what happened in the Adam Eaton household before he missed with the knife and got his stomach. Stitches followed, and the DVD has yet to be watched.
30. Milton Bradley Has Painful Argument
Milton Bradley is certainly a hothead, to say the least. He can't seem to stay with a team long because everywhere he goes, drama follows.
This was no different in 2007, when Bradley played for the San Diego Padres. While being restrained by manager Bud Black, he tore his ACL arguing a call at first base. He was lost for the last week of the season, and the Padres lost their wild-card lead.
I can't make this stuff up.
29. Chris Hanson and Jaret Holmes Fondue Party
Somehow, Chris Hanson has made this list twice, but this time, he brought his teammate with him thanks to a freak fondue debacle.
When having his teammate Jaret Holmes over for dinner, Hanson and his wife mishandled a fondue pot, burning all three and sending them to the emergency room.
Everyone ended up being OK, but Hanson solidified himself as someone I never want to hang out with. He is an accident waiting to happen.
28. Kevin Johnson Crushed by Charles Barkley
Stay away from Charles Barkley when he is hungry or excited. Either way, you will end up injured.
After Kevin Johnson made a game-winning shot, Sir Charles ran to give him a hug and banged knees with him. KJ would miss the season finale and the first game of the playoffs.
This is the definition of freak.
27. Greg Harris Hurts Elbow Flicking Sunflower Seeds
They tell us not to horse around during the game for a reason. Apparently, bad things happen when you are bored.
For reliever Greg Harris, a truer statement has never been said. He was forced to miss two starts because of inflammation in his elbow caused by flicking sunflower seeds at a teammate all game long.
I think he learned his lesson, and we are glad he made the mistake in the first place.
26. Tom Glavine Breaks a Rib Throwing Up
Airplane food is the absolute worst thing known to man. For those who are courageous enough to eat what is given on the planes, they then face the consequences and the number that it does on your stomach.
Tom Glavine, in all of his infinite wisdom, ate an in-flight meal and proceeded to throw it up. Somehow, he got injured in the process and allegedly broke a rib.
A 162-game season is no problem for Glavine, but just give him airplane food and you’ll have him on the DL before you know it.
25. Lionel Simmons Hurt Himself Playing Video Games
Before there was Joel Zumaya hurting himself with Guitar Hero, Lionel Simmons missed two games of his rookie NBA season because of tendinitis in his wrist.
This wasn’t from working out too hard in the gym or an injury on the court; it was from playing too much Game Boy. I love this early '90s injury because it involved handheld video games and their subsequent injuries.
His Wikipedia page states that he had to retire due to recurring injuries. I assume this was one of them, making it all the more stupid.
24. Ken Griffey, Jr. Hits the Wrong Ball
I thought your cup was supposed to help protect your manhood and not hurt it. The oft-injured Ken Griffey, Jr. found a way to change that around for the worse.
Before a game, while getting his uniform on, apparently the center fielder missed his target and pinched himself, determining that he couldn’t play that day. So much for these guys being extremely tough.
In Griffey’s defense, he might have really hurt the family jewels. Other than that, I got nothing; that was just a stupid move.
23. Glenn Healy Cuts Himself Fixing Bagpipes
Bagpipe playing is an interesting skill, and something that goalie Glenn Healy considered a very serious hobby.
It was so serious, in fact, that he decided to fix up an antique bagpipe. During the process, Healy sliced open his hand, requiring 40 stitches.
Luckily, this was going into his last season in the NHL, and it was soon forgotten.
Next time, wait until you are retired to start your specialty hobbies.
22. George Brett Breaks Toe Watching Baseball on TV
We’ve all been there before. Your favorite player is at the plate and you are out of the room, only to hear the announcers calling your favorite player's name. You run in, because hey, it’s your favorite player.
This situation makes complete sense for us normal people, right? I think so.
But when you hear of a professional athlete doing something like this, you can’t help but laugh.
Brett stubbed his toe, and broke it, running into his living room to see Bill Buckner's at-bat on TV. I assume that his reaction was something similar to hearing there was too much pine tar on his bat.
21. Bret Barberie Burns Eyes with Hot Peppers
I love nachos and all the fixings that come along with them. They are delicious and are definitely a great pregame snack. Of course, you've got your cheese and sour cream, and don't forget the peppers that will burn your eyes off.
Lesson learned, kids: Always wash your hands after dealing with hot peppers. You would think that a grown man would know that, but alas, Bret Barberie didn't and missed a day of work for it.
20. Nolan Ryan Misses a Start After Being Bitten by Coyote
Nolan Ryan once missed a start because he allegedly was bitten by a coyote. After seeing what he did to Robin Ventura, there is no way that he couldn't have kicked that coyote's ass.
Either way, it's an awesome story and a great legend.
19. Craig Grebeck Rubs Stickum in His Eye
Yes, it hurts to rub Stickum in your eye, and yes, Grebeck was foolish enough to do so. Of course, he didn't mean to, but that shouldn't exclude him from a list of guys who never intend to hurt themselves in weird and embarrassing ways.
Grebeck should just be happy that he has joined a list with a couple of Hall of Famers.
18. Cecil Upshaw Gets Stuck in an Awning
Cecil Upshaw missed the entire 1970 season when his ring got caught in an awning when he was trying to show off his dunking skills.
I don't know what is more noteworthy: that he got hurt in an awning or that a little white guy is dunking.
Either way, I am floored.
17. David Seaman Breaks Bone Reaching for a Remote
There are a million other things that he could have been reaching for when he broke his hand, but somehow, he thought it was a good idea to tell the truth and tell everyone it was a remote.
I still don't know how it exactly happened, but a broken hand and a TV remote just don't go together. Any way you look at it, the English goalie had one of the weirdest injuries you will ever see.
16. Wade Boggs Gets Hurt Pulling Up Boots
Stick to baseball, Wade.
Boggs hurt his back pulling up his well-known cowboy boots, which I'm sure many of his teammates wished had happened a lot sooner.
Don't get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with a good pair of cowboy boots, but keep them at home.
15. Clarence Blethen's Fake Teeth Hurt Him
I know, it's a bit grim that the only picture I could find that has anything to do with him is his grave, but bear with me.
Legend has it that Clarence Blethen put his fake teeth in his back pocket when he played, and when he slid hard to break up a double play, his own teeth bit him in the behind, causing him to bleed.
He had to leave the game, and the rest is history.
14. Ken Sanders Breaks Nose from Glare
Keep your eye on the ball!
When Brewers pitcher Ken Sanders was waiting to receive the ball back from his catcher, a terrible glare caught his eye, and apparently, his attention.
The ball came flying back at him, breaking his nose and cheek.
I'm not sure if this picture was taken before or after the accident, but I hope it was after. Otherwise, that is one ugly man.
13. Alex Stepney Breaks Jaw Yelling
Over my years playing sports, teammates and I have shared yelling matches, but none like this. Manchester United goalie Alex Stepney yelled so loud and so intensely that he broke his jaw.
I cannot even fathom opening my mouth that wide while yelling. Apparently, the injury was aggravated before the incident, and while barking orders, he heard a pop.
I imagine that his teammates were upset about that, but also liked the idea that he had to shut up.
12. Jose Cardenal Has Eyelid Stuck Open
This was more of a trend than an isolated incident for Jose Cardenal, who always seemed to be coming up with new and creative ailments. This time, it was his eyelid that wouldn't shut, preventing him from blinking.
This is the same player who once said he couldn't play because crickets got into his bedroom, keeping him up all night.
Yeah, and my dog ate my homework, too.
11. Ryan Klesko Strains Back While Picking Up Lunch Tray
I assume that a man Ryan Klesko's size has big clubhouse meals, because they are delicious and free. So after piling on mounds of something, the weight was even too much for this rugged first baseman.
He missed several games in the 1999 season with a strained back after picking up his tray.
I wouldn't be surprised if that happened to Bartolo Colon.
10. Svein Grondalen Collides with a Moose While Running
I have heard of cars colliding with deer, but a person running into a moose? That's right, you read it correctly—a moose.
Norwegian defender Svein Grondalen had to withdraw from an international competition because he went out jogging and ran into a moose.
This is the type of thing that you cannot possibly believe, but if they say it on the Internet, it has to be true, right?
9. Marty Cordova Stays in Tanning Bed Too Long
They say tanning beds are bad for you because of the harmful rays and fake tan that you get. They never tell us about the idiot who stays in too long and burns himself to a crisp.
Outfielder Marty Cordova never got the memo. After overstaying his welcome in a tanning bed, he burnt his face and was told by doctors to stay out of the sun.
If there was one thing baseball players simply cannot avoid, it's that big thing that's always over the ballpark...oh yeah, the sun.
8. David Wells Kicks Stool and Cuts His Hand
David Wells is far from limber, so when I heard that he tripped over a stool when he was fooling around with a friend, leading him to fall and cut his hand, all I could think about was how the foundation of the house must have shaken.
This accident landed him on the DL, and although he joked about it, I'm sure he was pretty mad.
7. Gus Frerotte Uses His Head in the Wrong Way
I'm sure everyone has seen this boneheaded play by Gus Frerotte, the journeyman quarterback who all but solidified himself as a YouTube sensation.
Everyone has interesting ways of celebrating touchdowns. In today's game, any sort of excessive celebration gets you a 15-yard penalty. I wonder if this would have happened today or if the referees would have thought this was penalty enough.
This would be surprising, but he is a Redskin.
6. Sammy Sosa Hurts Back Sneezing
If Sosa didn’t embarrass himself enough over the course of his career, spraining a ligament in his back from sneezing put him over the top.
He was forced to miss a game, which I'm sure wasn't easy to explain to his manager, and he must have been a good punch line for that day's opponent.
Nobody has ever mistaken him for the most elegant man, and it's nice to see that all of his strength translates to his sneezes too.
5. Steve Sparks Hurts His Shoulder Ripping Phone Books
I am all for testing your limits and doing something crazy every once in a while. Pitcher Steve Sparks learned not to do this the hard way.
During spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers, Sparks tried to tear a phone book in half and dislocated his shoulder.
I don't know what is more interesting about this story: the fact that he hurt himself or that they still used phone books back then.
4. Joe Sakic Gets Hurt by Snowblower
You're 39 years old and injured, and you are pushing a snowblower; life is not on your side right now.
For Joe Sakic, things only got worse when he stuck his hand in the machine to get snow out (what a brilliant idea) and broke three of his fingers. Surgery was required, setting him back three months—three long months sitting there and thinking about what he did.
Luckily, he's a hockey player, and very few people raised an eyebrow.
3. Paulo Diogo Loses Part of a Finger Celebrating
What a bad day at the office.
Servette midfielder Paulo Diogo scored a goal and ran into the crowd to celebrate. Unfortunately for him, his ring finger got caught in fencing, and he lost the top part of his appendage.
To top it all off, he was booked for excessive celebration. Try explaining that one to the wife.
2. Bill Gramatica...Ya Know
We all know about the field goal celebration heard around the world.
Bill Gramatica, the Arizona Cardinals placekicker, celebrated a measly 42-yard field goal in the first quarter that would end up meaning a lot more than he intended. Of course, he was lost for the game and the season with a torn ACL, making him one of the biggest goats in sports history.
It’s hard to get past this kind of embarrassment, so at this point, he has started to joke about it himself. If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.
1. Glenallen Hill Has a Bad Dream
Everyone has fears, irrational or not. For Glenallen Hill, spiders have always been his kryptonite. During a violent nightmare about spiders, Hill walked around in his sleep and sustained cuts all over his arms and feet after knocking into a glass table and falling down the stairs.
That is a lot of man to fall down the stairs.
What made it worse was that it forced him to the 15-day disabled list, where he had to sit around for two weeks and think about what just happened.